SO much has been said about the “Fight of the Century” that I don’t have much to add. I can say that anyone who thought this was going to be a great fight was not looking at the tactical side of the fight. The only way it could have come close to living up to that tag is if Floyd Mayweather chose to stand to-to-toe with Manny Pacquiao and trade for 12 rounds. No way! Mayweather was much too smart for that to be even a remote possibility. Could an 100 per cent fit Pacquiao have forced him to do so? I don’t believe he could. What we needed as a minimum condition of satisfaction was a good fight, a decisive result, so that we would not have to go through all the frustration of the last five years again, and for neither boxer to suffer a serious injury. We seemed to have got the decisive victory but then the question of an injury came into play.
It is obvious now that Pacquiao was not 100 percent fit going into the fight. The subsequent need for an operation showed that but it is impossible to say what part it played in restricting Pacquiao’s ability in the fight but as it was a rotator cuff injury it must have been a significant impediment. He is now the subject of a class action for concealing the injury and there is no doubt in my mind that he should have owned up to it. Despite that I can understand why he did not. There was a chance, a very slim chance, the injury might undergo some partial healing before the fight so that it would not be a factor but the very thought of a postponement must have been a nightmare scenario for Pacquiao and all those involved in putting the fight on. Any postponement might have killed the chances of the fight every taking place. It took such a great effort to put this one together that there was no guarantee all of those agreements on every detail of the fight could again be reached. Pacquiao was really between the rock and the hard place. He gambled on the shoulder and lost and now faces the consequences including why he ticked the “no injury” box on the Nevada State’s form. However he should not suffer the consequences alone. If anyone at HBO/Showtime/Top Rank etc. also knew of the injury then they too put their profits first and were willing parties to the conspiracy of silence.
Pacquiao has come out of the fight with an even more enhanced reputation in the Philippines with suggestions that he may now turn completely to politics and run for President. One word of caution here. Pacquiao has been a tremendous asset to the Government and people of the Philippines so there is a groundswell of opinion that says he has already done so much for the country that he should not be pursued on the matter of his tax issues, almost as if it is a matter strictly between the Philippines government and Pacquiao. I don’t agree. The money it is alleged he owes to the government would be enough to build schools and hospitals for the very people he loves but I guess you need to be a Filipino to judge the balance here. My dear mum always told me not to get mixed up in politics or girls. I have just failed on the first, on the second, well, chance would be a fine thing.
After all of the razzmatazz surrounding the fight (or let down) of the century it was great to see Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov go to war, to see Saul Alvarez showing pulverising power and Jamie McDonnell and Tomoki Kameda fight hard all the way in a great little title fight. Boxing is still great entertainment and has a great future.
On money I recently read in the New York Times an excellent piece on Bulgarian Serfim Todorov. Never heard of him? Well he was the last man to beat Mayweather. Todorov took a 10-9 decision over Mayweather in the semi-finals at the 1996 Olympic Games. He was approached to turn professional but turned the offers down. Now poor Todorov has suffered depression for years and is living on a monthly pension of about $450 a month. Worlds apart.
The WBA’s decision to strip Carl Froch of their secondary title was disgraceful particularly as they disregarded their own stipulation about a Andre Ward vs. Froch fight and also showed bias. On February 28 the WBA ordered the Ward vs. Froch fight saying that the parties should negotiate and if no agreement was reached then the WBA would call for purse offers. No agreement was reached and I am not even sure that any negotiations took place. The WBA had committed themselves to calling for purse offers if no agreement was reached but instead of doing so they went right past their own commitment and stripped Froch. That action itself was bad enough but both parties were at fault over no agreement being reached but only Froch was penalised. Not only was Ward not penalised he was even given permission for a non-title fight with Paul Smith. Froch last defended his WBA title in May 2014 but Ward has not defended his Super title since November 2013. That is unfair. To make matters worse Danny Garcia has not defended his WBA Super title since March 2014 and was even given permission to fight IBF champion Lamont Peterson in what could have been a unification fight and without having his title at risk. I believe the WBA’s failure to call for purse offers and their leniency in the cases of Ward and Garcia should be challenged.
So sad to read of the death of Tony Ayala Jnr, his was a case of “what could have been” if ever there was one. He had a pro career record of 31-2 and that hides the ruining of a huge talent. Tony was a teenage sensation he was twice US Junior champion and at just 16 won the NGG title. There were stories coming out of Tony Ayala’s San Antonio about this 16-year-old who had badly beaten then feared WBA welter champion Pipino Cuevas in a gym war. When he turned pro fight figures such as Bob Arum and Angelo Dundee were raving over the kid’s potential. He turned pro just after his 17th birthday and was fighting in bouts scheduled for ten rounds in only his third pro outing and by his fifth had beaten former WBC title challenger Mike Baker. He beat useful fighters such as Pat Hallacy, Jerry Cheatham, Steve Gregory, Robbie Epps and Carlos Maria Del Valle Herrera in winning his first 22 fights. In the background there were some very bad stories about Ayala including an alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl with it being claimed that the girl was bought-off. Whatever the truth of that there was no doubt about his attack and rape of a woman who caught him burgling her house in 1983 and a potentially great fighter was deservedly sent to prison. He served 16 years of a 35-year sentence and was released in 1999. He was a shadow of the great prospect he had been and went a modest 9-2 in eleven fights before being shot when trying to break into a house. He was given 10 years’ probation but in 2004 he was pulled over for speeding, had no licence and was found in possession of drugs and was sent to jail for violating his parole. He was released in April last year and was looking to rebuild his life but was found dead at the family gym on Tuesday this week. His brothers Mike and Sammy were top level fighters. Eldest brother Mike had a 45-6 record and challenged Danny Lopez for the WBC feather title and twice fought for versions of the world super bantam title. Five of his six losses were to world champions or former world champions. Middle brother Sammy did not reach the same heights but beat some useful opposition in his 23-3 record. I had a special interest in the family as I wrote features on Mike and Tony Jnr for Boxing News when they were each starting out way back in the 1970s and 80s. I had an even closer involvement through a friend of Tony Snr. who trained his sons. My friend would write to me in London from San Antonio asking for information on Mexican boxers! No internet then guys. RIP Tony Jnr a life wasted.
The WBO refused to sanction the fight between their then champion Tomoki Kameda and WBA secondary champion Jamie McDonnell as a unification fight. They stated that they do not recognise titles of the “secondary” nature and as McDonnell is not the WBA Super champion it could not be a unification fight. They also refused to accept McDonnell as a challenger for their title as he is not in their ratings. The net result was Kameda relinquished the WBO title. The WBO logic is a bit convoluted. McDonnell is not in their ratings because he is the WBA secondary champion so they exclude him for holding a title they do not recognise! However it was nice to see that I am not a voice crying in the wilderness as I have finally seen someone else refer to those WBA titles as “secondary”.
Things do not get any better in South Africa. The winners, other contestants and officials in the Premier Boxing League (PBL) have not yet being paid any of their prize money or fees three months after the event was completed. The South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had lauded the PBL on Twitter saying it was the future of boxing in South Africa! I hope not for the sake of all South African boxers. The Boxing South Africa (BSA) who run boxing down there do not seem to want to take any responsibility or any action, except to take the licence fees from the boxers.
Whilst this is all a domestic matter which might be swept under the carpet the matter of non- payment of the purses for IBO champion Rey Loreto and fellow-Filipino Jetly Purisima for the show in Mdantsane in March could have serious repercussions because no fighter is going to travel to South Africa if he fears the same thing is going to happen to him. Again the BSA seem to have done nothing and I would be interested to know what the IBO have/will do. They have recently appointed a promoter Andile Sidinile as their fight commissioner, a controversial decision but one with which they are comfortable as they see no conflict of interest and as Mr. Sidinile had previously asked the South African Public Protector to investigate these defaults on payments he presumably will also do so with the IBO behind him. After all Loreto was taking part in an IBO title fight and the IBO must have approved the fight and by so doing endorsed the promoter to stage the fight so their reputation is also at stake. Added to all of this the BSA’s stupid idea of taking control of the broadcasting rights for fights is still rightly being contested in court so the South African Broadcasting Corporation is the South African non-Broadcasting Corporation. What a mess but that’s what happens when the government appoint people with no knowledge of boxing to head the BSA.
Johnny Gonzalez has no thoughts of retiring. The former two-division world champion is back in the gym with the aim of a fight with Takashi Miura for the WBC super-feather title. His crushing loss to Gary Russell does not seem to have deterred him but he did look a bit shot in that fight.
I used to think that Frankie Gomez was a great talent who would be a world champion one day. Now I am not so sure. It escapes me how he could come in 6 ½ lbs overweight for his fight at the weekend. Discipline is a big factor in a boxer’s future let’s hope the former amateur star finds some.
At the weekend I reported on a fight on the Fedor Chudinov vs. Felix Sturm show in Frankfurt where Adnan Redzovic had won his fight against Bekim Pagga by KO. I have since been informed that the Swiss Federation had suspended Redzovic for two years after he tested positive for anabolic steroids when he fought Arnold Gjergiaj in Basle in October. After this his name was placed on the EBU suspensions list but here he is seven months later with his name still on the suspensions list fighting on a major card in Germany. Disgraceful.
Some fights to watch out for: Friday (May 15) in Phoenix light heavy hope Trevor McCumby faces Brazilian Marcus Vinicius de Oliveira. McCumby is 18-0 with 14 wins by KO/TKO and de Oliveira is 24-2-1 with 22 wins by KO/TKO. De Oliveira’s stats look good but two fights ago he lost on points to Joell Godfrey (16-11-1) so a typical Brazilian padded record. My money is on McCumby-early. May 30 in Merida Mexican Javier “Cobra” Mendoza (23-2-1) defends his IBF fly title against Filipino Milan Melindo (32-1). June 6 Daud Cino Yordan returns to action against Ghanaian Maxwell Awuku for the Interim WBO Asia Pacific title and the WBO African title. That will be different an African champion who is Indonesian. Madness and stupidity abounds. June 12 in Chicago Erislandy Lara puts his WBA secondary super welter title on the line against Delvin Rodriguez. June 13 in New York WBA champion Nicolas Walters will defend his featherweight title against unbeaten Colombian Marriaga. June 20 sees Adrien Broner back in the ring against Shawn Porter in Las Vegas at a catchweight. An interesting match. July 11 sees an even looking match at super light with Mauricio Herrera facing Hank Lundy. Both are coming off losses, Herrera to Jose Benavidez for the interim WBA title and Lundy to Thomas Dulorme. Two world title fights set for July will see Sergey Kovalev facing Nadjib Mohammedi in Las Vegas on July 18 with the IBF, WBA and WBO titles on the line and on the same night Arthur Abraham defending his WBO super middle title in series IV of his fights with Robert Stieglitz. Abraham is 2-1 up in the series. On a busy July 18 the Top Rank show in Macau will have Mickey Bey defending his IBF light title against Denis Shafikov with Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria also on the show. It could be that Donaire ends up fighting for the vacant WBC super bantam title as there are strong rumours that Leo Santa Cruz will relinquish the title to go up to featherweight.
One fight that will not take place is Grigory Drozd’s defence of the WBC cruiser title against Pole Krzys Wlodarczyk in Moscow on May 22. Former champion Wlodarczyk has been struck down by a viral infection and it looks likely that Pole Lukasz Janik will take his place. Janik is currently No 19 with the WBC. “Ding” that’s the bell for the WBC ratings elevator to take Janik up to the top 15.
Different countries have different rules when it comes to how old a boxer has to be to turn pro. I get the impression that in Thailand it is a case of if you are good enough age is immaterial. Even then I was surprised to note that the current WBC Asian Council Continental bantamweight champion Saenganan is just 15 and turned pro at 13 ½ years old. He has already gone the full twelve rounds twice in fights which would never be allowed to happen in most countries. He is still unbeaten so good enough is old enough. He boxes as Saenganan KPP, his “alias” is Saenganan Sithsaithong and his real name is Thiranan Matsali. Now you see why I only use the first name when reporting on fights in Thailand.
Nice to see Gary Balletto involved in the celebrations for the 25th Anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just coming up for his 40th birthday Gary is a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in an accident. A former boxer he built a useful 31-3-2 record and was popular all across the New England States. He did not quite make it to the very top but is now working hard raising funds for the construction of a handicap accessible gym. Best of luck Gary.
Unsal Arik is another working for charity. The German-born Turk is very much the rough diamond type. His mother died from cancer and Arik now works with an association which supports cancer patients and physically disabled children. Arik is sponsoring two of the children and is active in fund raising.
There are some good people out there and many of them are boxers.